MOSCOW – A top Russian general said Saturday he expected a new arms control agreement between Moscow and Washington to be worked out by the summer, when the U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty becomes final.
Gen. Anatoly Kvashnin, chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces, told reporters a new agreement on nuclear weapons cuts was needed following the United States' unilateral decision to withdraw from the ABM treaty.
Russian and U.S. delegations discussed military cooperation and arms reductions in Washington last week. Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense who headed the U.S. delegation, said Washington was willing to put new agreements in writing — something U.S. officials have not been eager to do, but on which Moscow has insisted.
The head of the Russian delegation, Col. Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, said on Saturday that despite lingering disputes, a new agreement should be "laid upon the table for the Russian and U.S. presidents" when President Bush visits Russia this May or June, according to the Interfax news agency.
Last November, Bush pledged to slash U.S. nuclear arsenals to 1,700 to 2,200, while Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia could go as low as 1,500 warheads.
In December, the United States gave Russia formal notice that it was withdrawing from the 1972 ABM treaty in six months' time. Putin called the move a mistake. Russia views the treaty, which interferes with U.S. missile defense plans, as a cornerstone of world security.
Baluyevsky said one of the snags in last week's arms consultations was the U.S. insistence that they focus on American-Russian relations.
"One should also think about the reduction of strategic armaments of the other members of the nuclear club and drawing them into the process in the future," he was quoted by Interfax as saying.